Updated: Mar 12
Icelanders have Vikings, elves, trolls, magic hammers, exploding landscapes, ever-changing weather, and even dragons! There is a creature lurking in a glacial-fed lake in east Iceland. They even have a video to prove it! This creature is known as Lagarflótsormurinn (the worm of Lagarfljót). This is not just any worm but is also called by other names: Iceland Sea Serpent, Lake Worm, Water Dragon, and Lake Monster.
The legend of the Lagarfljót Worm dates back to 1345 in the Icelandic Annals (manuscripts of events). According to the legend, a young woman received a gold ring from her mother. The mother told her that she should put the gold ring under a serpent -- a sort of mini-dragon - - known as a Lingworm. The young woman put the gold ring under her little serpent in a chest. The mother told her daughter that the magical dragon would grow and at the same time, so would the gold grow beneath the Lingworm. The mini-dragon started growing. It got bigger and bigger in the chest and soon the serpent was so big it was scaring the young woman. She threw the chest, the dragon, and the magical ring into Lake Lagarfljót. (Remember the Lord of the Rings and the magical golden ring? We know that Tolkien uses many legends and landscapes from Iceland in his stories.)
These magical dragons can spit poison on anyone that is attacking it. They never stop growing as long as they have the gold under them. Lagarfljótsormurinn grew and grew. The favorite prey of the dragon is humans but they eat sheep because they are easier to catch. When the people of the area had lost many sheep to the dragon, they asked two brave men to go kill the worm. Some stories say these men were Finns (Sami people). The brave men worked and worked but they could not kill the Sea Monster. They said that they could not find the gold, either. However, they were able to anchor the head and the tail to the bottom of the lake.
So, nowadays, we never can see the head or tail of Lagarfljótsormurinn but we can see the body squirming around in the lake. If anyone sees the sea serpent/lake worm/dragon, it is a sign that natural disasters or bad luck will soon be upon us.
Here is a video of two Icelandic girls telling the story of the worm in Icelandic with English subtitles.
Many people in modern times have seen the Lagarfljót Worm. Here is a video taken in 2012 by Hjörtur Kjerúlf.
The folk story was first published in 1862 and 1864 by Jón Árnason in Icelandic Folktales and Legends. He was born in 1819 in Hof, Hornafjörður, on the east coast of Iceland near the Vatnajökull glacier and Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon). Lagarfljót Lake is along the Kjarnaskógar forest in East Iceland about 35km from Egilsstaðir.
In 1983, telephone cables were laid in East Iceland. When they laid the cable near Lagarfljót, they had to cross the river which flows into the lake. They had ordered a very special and very strong cable to go across the glacier river. It was engineered especially for this type of use. The men told stories of how they had found a mysterious mass at the bottom of the lake and how it moved around and was not a stable mass. When they went to test the connections, they found that the cable was totally broken. They pulled the cable out of the water and noticed it was torn and broken and kinked in twenty-two different places. The men believed the mass on the bottom of the lake was the Lake Worm and as they dragged the cable through the water, the beast had chewed and mangled the cable.
The Lagarfljót Worm is said to be about 300 feet long (91 meters) and has many humps - others say it is even larger (about 30 km long). Great details are told about its appearance. Many reliable people, including the telephone cable workers and the manager of the Icelandic National Forest, have told stories of seeing Lagarflótsormurinn.
From 1345 until today --- that seems like an awfully long time where someone could have proven the legend to be a hoax. What do you think?